Churn Rate Optimization: How to Reduce Customer Loss

CRO (conversion rate optimization) is a hot topic. And rightly so. Transforming visitors into buyers all starts with a single click. Any method that can increase your site’s conversion rate is worth its weight in digital gold.

In this article, however, I want to dive deep into a lesser-known but profoundly more crucial CRO. This CRO is essential to long-term profitable success and oddly enough, you want to minimize it as much as possible.

This CRO is Churn Rate Optimization.

Customer churn rate — also known as “customer attrition, customer turnover, or customer defection” — is the amount of customers or subscribers who stopped using your product or service within a particular period of time.

The vast majority of both marketing budgets and marketing blogs are devoted to attracting new customers, instead of retaining the ones you already have. Ironically, the simple truth is this: churn rate optimization — reducing the number of customers who abandon your product or service — is far more essential to your profitability and long-term success than conversion rate optimization.

Why?

Consider the facts:

Acquiring a new customer costs 6-7 times more than retaining and selling to an existing one (Bain & Company).72% of customers who had a memorable product purchase took action to communicate about it positively to others (Harris Interactive).The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70%, while the probability of selling to a new prospect is just 5-20% (Market Metrics).On average, loyal customers are worth up to 10 times more than their first purchase (White House Office of Consumer Affairs).

Obviously, the incentives to reduce customer churn are high. But so are the challenges. Lowering your customer churn rate means understanding what makes customers leave and then putting steps in place from the moment they become a customer to ensure their experience keeps them coming back.

To do that, here’s a simple five-step plan to discover your churn rate and stop your business from losing out.

Naturally, before you fix your customer churn, you have to figure out what your churn rate is. Here’s a very simple formula for calculating customer churn rate:

1-the-churn-equation

While stating your customer churn as a percentage is the most commonly discussed method, it isn’t always the best for SaaS businesses. This formula automatically assumes that all customers are equal and worth the same.

With a freemium business model, you can see how this could be skewed, especially if you’re losing free customers but gaining paid ones, or the other way around.

For businesses that need a more detailed approach, customer churn can be stated in any of the following ways:

Number of customers lostPercentage of customers lostValue of monthly recurring revenue (MRR) lostPercentage of MRR lost

The value these different numbers have to your business will depend on the type of products you sell. For example, if you sell subscription packages at different price ranges, the lost MRR figure will tell you more about your status than the bare number of customers lost.

No matter which formula you use, it is important to continuously monitor your churn rate for comparison and improvement. This is where an all-in-one business dashboard comes in handy.

Cyfe allows you to pull in data from various sources – both online and offline – and bring them together on one screen to get a clear picture of your business’ overall status. Part of this overall picture must include how your churn rate compares to your acquisition rate, i.e. the number of new customers you gain.

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In addition to the big picture, Cyfe has three widgets specifically designed to monitor different types of customer attrition: downgrades, cancellations, and churn itself.

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To truly drill down into the mysterious world of customer behavior, you need some help.

When you’ve mapped out the sales cycle, it’s time to see what visitors are doing on your site. For B2B companies especially, the sales cycle can be complicated and oftentimes the website is not utilized to its full potential.

Companies like Leadfeeder provide B2B companies a Google Analytics based tool to see which company the visitors come from.

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The platform shows a list of companies that visited your website and allow you to click on the company to see which pages were loaded and how they found your website. Once you identify a prospective lead, you simply email it to your sales team or upload it to the CRM.

When you understand the types of companies interested in your product, you are well-positioned to understand how to approach them. More importantly, you can tailor your product to cater to the right niche within the industry.

google-analytics-leadfeeder

By narrowing down your focus you’ll automatically decrease your churn rate and discover the real and sustainable potential of your service.

Decreasing your churn rate starts the moment someone becomes a customer.

This means the onboarding phase is crucial, because once a customer has made a commitment by signing up, particularly if they are spending money, they see things a lot differently. Namely, they experience what is called post purchase dissonance: a universal phase during which they are constantly assessing their purchase to determine whether they made the right decision.

In other words, you have a limited window to hook customers into your product and experience them as part of their daily lives. So how do you achieve that?

By getting them to invest time and effort in your product’s key features and offering immediate and measureable results.

The best way to communicate to a customer immediately post-purchase is via email. The first email should be familiar: confirm their subscription/purchase and welcome them aboard. Some stop there, but you have the ability to do much more than that.

Instead, focus on building a robust onboarding process by creating a lifecycle email sequence. Here’s a brief overview you can follow:

(1) The Confirmation Email

Welcome your new customer in a memorable and personal way. Include the relevant details, but above all stand out. The classic example of this is CD Baby’s confirmation email, which started with the amazingly unique line: “Dear [Name,] Your CDs have been gently taken from our CD Baby shelves with sterilized contamination-free gloves and placed onto a satin pillow.”

(2) The How to … Best Feature Email

Follow up in the next few days by giving your customers a guided tour of your most beneficial feature. Keep it simple and just focus on one. Also, call attention to a customer success story of that single feature. Including a link to a case study is a phenomenal way to both promote your product and help them engage.

(3) The How to … Get Even More Email

Next, highlight to 2-3 additional features and (again) call attention to the value they create. As a “PS,” invite your customer to share their questions or successes with your product based on the best feature email you sent previously.

(4) The Time’s Almost Up Email

If you offer a free trial period, send this email 72 and 24 hours before “time’s up.”

(5) The Bonus Email

This takes two forms. First, if your customer’s free trial has ended, offer them an opt-in to extend service. Second, if they’ve already purchased your entry-level product, now is the time to ease them into the next offering. However, be sure your “upsell” builds on their previous success.

Unfortunately, lifecycle emails can be taxing to create and deploy, especially if you sell multiple products.

That’s why it’s vital to use an autoresponder like GetResponse that not only allows you to build and schedule drip campaigns but to insert “dynamic content” to personalize your emails. Dynamic elements can be done in one of two ways. First, variable substitution places dynamic fields in your email that can be customized based on your recipient’s personal information. This is the most common form of personalization.

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Second, content insertion is one step beyond. With content insertion you can actually “switch out sections of content—phrases, paragraphs, even images—by inserting different content in different places within the text of your message.”

Here’s an example of two emails, based on the same template, that utilize content insertion based on their customer’s interests (i.e., what offer they originally signed up for and what pages they’ve viewed in the past).

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Once a customer is “on board,” the next step is to keep them engaged. The best way to do this is through educating them even further, not just on using your tool, but on related disciplines to help them leverage your product for success.

Let’s take a look at one SaaS company that’s doing this excellently: Canva, an online-based design tool for non-professionals. Canva’s interface is fairly intuitive, but can be rather daunting to a non-designer, so the first step they took is to teach new subscribers how to navigate the software and use the tools provided.

But that wasn’t enough. Knowing how to use a tool doesn’t mean you know how to create great, eye-catching, cohesive designs, and if users weren’t feeling good about the finished product, they’d stop using the service.

So Canva created Design School, a series of in-product tutorials that teach users the elements of design and how to use them to create images for their blogs, businesses and personal use.

Another great email tool – designed especially for engaging your customers throughout their lifecycle – is Rejoiner. This email marketing automation platform specializing in recovering lost orders and reclaims profits through restoring customer’s carts.

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Rejoiner walks you through the entire lifecycle email process by breaking it down into four segments and then helping you build emails targeted at each one: New Customers, Existing Customers, Declining Customers, and Lapsed.

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To adopt the techniques of Canva and Rejoiner for yourself:

Be valuable. Don’t just teach customers how to use your product; give them the knowledge they need tied directly to observable outcomes (i.e., results).Be structured. Set goals for your customers and reward them – even via social media or on your own blog or forums.Be positive. Highlight success stories and use case studies to help your customers discover ways to get more from your product.Be timely. Map out and anticipate the lifecycle stages of your own customers and create content specifically for them.

Bad service, broken promises, and less-than-satisfactory products are all top reasons that lead to customer churn. Here, your job is to anticipate the most difficult challenges your customer will face and solve these problems proactively.

The best way to identify the challenges your customers face before they tell you is to assess their behavior when using your product. Tracking “in app” activity is especially important if you run a SaaS, and that’s the focus of Kissmetrics. Using in-app analytics and machine learning can help you make better-informed decisions to improve your product and retain your customers. By creating and tracking a behavioral funnel, you can evaluate your user’s level of engagement:

kissmetrics-funnel-report-channel-origin-segmentation

Combining actual in-app use with your revenue and subscription rates lets you see exactly where the trouble spots for retention are:

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After you discover what behaviors lead to customer churn – most notably, inactivity – you can take steps to adjust your product to satisfy unmet needs, or reach out to these customers directly and help them to get better acquainted with your product and achieve success. Again, autoresponder emails built around in-app activity – or lack thereof – is the first stage in this churn-reducing process.

Once you’re armed with insight about exactly what the sticking points in your product or service are, you can also offer webinars and chat sessions specifically designed to address these customer needs. If you’re a marketer, you’re familiar with webinars as a lead generation tool. Here we’re talking about personalized webinars as a way to increase customer retention.

Data like this, direct from your customers, is invaluable in assessing your teaching as well as catapulting them into the next step …

If your customers aren’t paying for your best subscription level or buying your best products, it means there is room for leveling them up, i.e. upselling.

Upselling is often seen as a negative term, particularly because salespeople in traditional organizations tend to push unnecessary upgrades and additional products to make a higher commission. However, when upselling is done well, both the customer and the company benefits. Upsells should be recommended to current customers only when it will help them bring them a new level of achievement. In other words, when they win, you win.

If a customer has maximized the features of their current plan, an upgrade is the only logical step. If they stay where they are, they won’t see any additional benefits. Therefore, when you notice they are approaching the limits of their current package, this is the perfect time to upsell.

So how do you level them up? By exposing them directly to the features available in higher packages and providing visual cues on what benefits they could be getting from taking the next step.

However, the most powerful tool for leveling up your existing customers is social proof, which means featuring reviews and recommendations that don’t come directly from you. Managing social proof can be tricky, especially because – by its very nature – you aren’t in control.

Enter Listrak, an omnichannel personalization and digital marketing automation platform. Listrak improves customer relationships through creating personalized experiences across multiple marketing touchpoints.

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Listrak offer a suite of tools that create an effective integrated digital marketing campaign, which can maximize your ROI.

For instance, Listrak’s “Social Marketing” is a time saver and potential profit booster. This feature allows you to request and track social proof without any external tools or heavy lifting on your end. Even better, you can insert personalized social proof in the form of social media mentions as well as independent reviews directly into both your email campaigns and webpages.

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Unfortunately, we’re all prone to focus more on customer acquisition than customer retention.

But the cold, hard statistics all point in the same direction: customer retention is insanely more valuable.

To optimize your customer churn (CRO), your business must:

Determine your churn rate and monitor it constantlyHelp new customers to become familiar with your product with a robust onboarding processMaximize the results they get by providing additional learning resources and demonstrating how others are using the toolIdentify those who have maxed out the benefits of their current package and help them to advance to a new level

With all these processes in place, you are certain to see a reduction in your churn rate along with customers who love your product and promote it to others.

After all, your existing customers are your best hope of bringing new customers on board, so you can focus on continuously optimizing and creating a better experience.

About the Author: Nadav is a veteran online marketer and the Founder & CEO of InboundJunction, an Israel-based content marketing company. Nadav helps well-known brands in boosting their online visibility through PR, SEO and Social Media.

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How Live Chat on Your Website Can Maximize Conversions

Live chat is the ultimate sales hack. It’s a big call, but I stand by it. The reason is simple. It’s the easiest way to bump your website conversions in real-time without split testing.

This won’t come as a surprise to many of you who have already tried live chat to increase leads (and save on customer service). But, for most of you, it didn’t work right away.

Websites like Kissmetrics and SaneBox (which trialed our service when we founded) have tried live chat, and the data was conclusive. There was no increase in conversions, and in some cases a reduction.

In this post, I’m going to deep dive into the data science and psychology of a successful live chat install, one that increases conversions.

In the past, businesses used advertising to drive customers to a phone number. Customers would engage with a sales person. Every phone call had a person on the other end.

Then the internet took off and put something called a website in the middle.

Now, all those customers see a website before they talk to a real person. We expect a website to do the heavy lifting. It’s cheaper than humans, right?

Not always. Statistics show that, on average, only 2% of website visitors convert to an enquiry or sale. There’s an argument that lots of money is being left on the table.

Non-optimized websites convert at 2%

Live chat is well positioned to be the fix. Real humans have a way of talking to the people you drive to your website.

And, with live chat, businesses won’t need to worry if they don’t have the money, time, or resources for A/B tests or a landing page designed by Oli Gardner.

In fact, you can have the world’s worst site, or even a blank website, and still convert.

Live chat can generate 4-8x more leads

When you or your team sit on live chat, you should notice that between 10 and 50% of all your website visitors engage with you.

If done correctly, typically, a third of those should become a lead or, in the case of E-Commerce / SaaS sites, buy or sign up.

Most people make the assumption that live chat will work in all conditions. You get to talk to your customers so that’s a good thing, right?

Wrong.

Websites that convert well do not work well with live chat.

The psychology is simple. The visitor has likely come from Google and found their answer in 0.24 seconds. Then they hit your website, and it’s almost always going to take longer than that to find what they want.

When they see a live chat button, it’s an exciting moment. (Maybe for me, at least.)

Live chat is the path of least resistance.

But, this is not a good thing in situations where the website can outperform the live chat agent.

Take E-Commerce. Online stores are designed for buyers, and buyers are comfortable purchasing this way.

Proactive live chat can distract users away from the buying experience by seducing them into a conversation. Our research shows that a significant portion of visitors will choose chat over the prominent CTA.

And because the “add to cart” and “checkout sequence” is easier than trying to complete a transaction through a live chat agent, live chat reduces conversions.

I get asked this all the time. Truth is, they all do.

But each type of site requires a different implementation.

The easiest way to prove the ROI of chat is to capture leads from the conversations. Tracking uplift in signups and sales is a little trickier.

If a website has a 5% or greater conversion rate, don’t use chat until you’ve mastered everything mentioned below.If a website has a 2-5% conversion rate, get some data (I’ll explain shortly).If a website has a conversion rate below 2%, launch chat immediately.

On the sites that are converting well, I like to take a data-driven approach.

The homepage might have a great conversion rate, but what about the “About Us,” “Pricing,” or “Contact Us” page.

It’s possible those pages aren’t converting well.

Here’s a live chat data checklist you can use:

Create a list of all the main pages on your site likely to get prospective customers.Find the conversion rate for each page, split into business hours and after hours.For each page, find the average time to enquiry or signup. For example, from the time someone hits the page, it takes, on average, 25 seconds for them to start filling out the enquiry form, which they submit by 50 seconds.

You can find this information using Google Analytics, Kissmetrics, or specialized apps like Formisimo.

Before we look at how to use the data, we need to understand who the right customer is.

The idea is to move mountains in order to talk to your best prospects but not talk to time wasters at all.

Here’s your customer characteristics checklist:

Question: Which countries do your best customers come from? Which countries do the time-wasters come from?
Answer: We get this data from ChartMogul.

Question: Which pages on your site are your best prospects likely to visit? Which pages are time-wasters likely to visit?
Answer: We look at the leads generated via our platform, and we look at the page chat was initiated on.

Question: Which page on your site has access to a login/support/area where visitors can log in?
Reason for the question: You don’t want to waste resources annoying your existing customers.

Using the data above, install the live chat platform on the pages that mean the most to you.

Some chat platforms need you to install the platform on all the pages. This is to ensure that a conversation can continue if the visitor is clicking through pages.

“Greetings” is industry lingo for automated chat popups. It’s a critical feature for generating leads.

With most good live chat providers, you can set triggers for proactive greetings, such as:

Time on website (popup after a specific time on site)First-time or returning visitorCurrent page address is “….”Visited the following page(s) “…..”during this sessionReferring website address is “….” (i.e., facebook.com, google.com, forbes.com)User’s country or city is “….”Searched keyword is “….” (from a Google paid ad, or Bing)Custom variable (via API into your CRM, software, etc.)

An example greeting we use at LeadChat

Good live chat providers let you customize the opening sentence based on the greeting. This creates a more personalized experience for your visitor.

Have the “time on website” trigger set to “equal to or greater than the average time to completion of CTA/form.” That is, don’t distract people before you’ve given them a chance.If you don’t have a user login area on your site (i.e., no existing customers), set a greeting to returning visitors starting with “Welcome back.”If you do have a login section for existing customers, don’t show chat on any page where they can access it (unless you are providing customer support which is a totally different beast).

Different applications need different setups. Getting it wrong will cost you.

Some companies want the website to do the heavy lifting without a sales person. Think E-Commerce sites or certain SaaS sites where you can sign yourself up without requesting a demo.

If the website is converting below 2%, do this:

Answer a visitor’s first question (usually a common FAQ)Ask for the visitor’s name, phone number, and email, and tell them you’ll get an expert to get in touchPoint the visitor to the sign-up link and suggest they sign upSend details captured in item #2 to your CRM or marketing system and use nurture sequence to drive them back to the CTA

The idea is that you’ll still have your same conversion rate on site, plus a few more people whose concern you solved.

And you’ll also have a whole bunch of leads who wouldn’t have converted during that visit, people you didn’t know and wouldn’t easily get back.

Then let email/content/automation or a direct response from your sales team do the work.

Using live chat for lead generation is becoming much more common.

Here’s how to set it up:

Have a FAQ or knowledgebase system that sits side-by-side with your chat console (or use a Google doc on another screen). This helps you answer visitors’ questions faster.Have an easy way to capture lead information (for example, set up a Wufoo form with fields for name, email, etc.) This ensures that you have a separate place for all your leads.During a chat conversation, don’t be afraid to control the conversation and ask for details.

An example lead generation flow we use at LeadChat

Expert Tip: I want you to imagine a scale with leads on one end and customer satisfaction (CSAT) on the other.

When a visitor comes to your site, what they’re hoping for is to have all their questions answered, instantly.

What your business wants is the largest number of leads you can capture from your traffic and a reduction in your CPL. If you are just robotic and go for the kill, you’ll get leads but tick customers off as well.

To each end, leads and CSAT are mutually exclusive.

The balance is to provide 5-7 FAQs in response to questions, and use an exit statement for anything else.

For example: “I’d love to get your question answered by one of our experts, who I’ll pass your details to ASAP.”

Customer support is a different beast altogether.

The goal is to reduce the amount of email and phone tickets and resolve customers’ issues on the fly.

The reason support works via chat is you can have the backwards and forwards in real-time without chewing tickets and email responses, which can take days or weeks to resolve, ultimately infuriating your visitors.

From my experience, you do need dedicated agents – people who know your product inside and out.

The best way to begin is to have your sales and/or product people handle support requests for one month. Then you can create a knowledgebase of all the questions and answers and provide it to agents you hire to do your support.

There are a few key players: LiveChatInc.com, Zopim, Olark, LivePerson, SnapEngage, and I’d throw in Tawk.to (because they’re free).

Here’s my list of things to look for (all of those listed above have these as far as I know):

Proactive greetings with customizable triggersA mobile appMobile responsive chat widget for the end user

At LeadChat, we actually use the LiveChatInc.com platform because it’s by far the most advanced.

1. Don’t use offline chat (i.e., “Leave a message”)
It’s rude. People see chat, they expect chat. It’s not nice to trick them into an offline form. Either have chat online, or off.

We find offline message capture still distracts people from the core CTA, with the added issue that there are no agents to respond to questions.

2. Answer within 15 seconds
If you have chat, you should answer people when they ask. 15 seconds is our rule of thumb. Anything longer is unfair.

3. Chat needs to be 24/7
Your website doesn’t close, neither should your chat. After hours represents more than 60% of your week because two-thirds of the day is after hours and there are weekends. We see 50-60% of leads come through for our clients after hours. You can find chat agents on Upwork.com, Peopleperhour.com, or specialist companies like ours – LeadChat.com.

4. Use the data
Beyond leads, you will capture amazing insights through the chat transcripts.

Here are some things to look for:

Traffic insights – Are you getting poorly qualified visitors and leads?Product opportunities – Are people asking for things you don’t do? Consider offering those.Missed opportunities – Why are people asking about things you clearly offer? Maybe your website is not communicating this well enough.Top 5 FAQs –What are the most common questions? Could you fix your homepage to address these better?

Live chat is here to stay and is an amazing tool for communicating with visitors if it’s done right.

Determine why you want live chat: More leads, more conversions, or to offer customer support.

Take a data-driven approach and create a benchmark. Follow the guide above and you’re sure to get some great results.

I love seeing the proof cases, so please share your own live chat results in the comments below. I’ll respond to every one of them 🙂

About the Author: Gary Tramer is co-founder of LeadChat, an Australian startup that helps businesses convert 4-8x more from their existing traffic. LeadChat does this by using a combination of data science, psychology, and neurolinguistics powered by technology and an incredible real human chat team.

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Importance of Wind Energy – Pros and Cons to Save Energy

Wind power is a clean and renewable energy to produce electricity. Today, wind energy is considered a renewable energy leader after the second solar energy. Until the composition of this post, the absolute capacity of wind turbines in place in the world is more than 3,500 TW.

With a whole lot of individuals can receive benefits of wind energy, there are millions of people around the world who put wind turbines to provide electricity to the house for your property. However, wind power is really worth? Can you really save hard earned money of the application of this power? The following are some of the advantages and disadvantages of wind energy that can enhance your knowledge of this renewable energy.

Well, if you need to know the advantages and disadvantages of wind energy. It is essential to think of different energy sources as non-renewable energy resources could not last forever. In this post, you might start by listing the benefits in this list of points cons, then finish with a balanced conclusion.

Benefits
1. No pollution or radioactive waste is created. Similarly, the development and installation of wind turbines is less destructive to the environment.
2. Wind power is much more autonomous. If a normal disaster took place, so fundamental power plants inactive individuals with their own custom turbines certainly still have the ability to apply power.
3. do not exhaust all kinds of non-renewable resources such as coal, oil or fuel.

Drawbacks
1. Some people say that wind turbines spoil the charm of the court. This can be especially true when they are very large, or when there are many of them in one place.
2. Wind turbines can be adversely affected by extreme storms such as an example of a thunder weather.
3. The blades are capable of killing the steal attempt. However, it is good for the thoughts that other methods of energy production, including damage caused by air pollution.

As they pass finite places in the world, is an inescapable truth that we discover options if you prefer environmentally continue living here for many years to come. Similarly, rather than how it is these days, many researchers agree that we must find methods of energy production that will never pollute the atmosphere of how other sources of energy do.

However, it is true that sometimes make wind turbines are substantial one eye sore on certain landscapes. To provide every person with enough electricity, certainly it requires much more wind than we currently have. One way around this is for people to develop their own wind turbines as that can only provide electricity for your home. This has two major advantages:

• Less need for a number of large wind turbines landscape demolition.
• People can be more independent

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Why Your Conversions Suck (And How to Fix It)

Average site conversion rates hover around 1-2%.

That means at any given time, you have another 98-99% of people just hanging out.

So… WTF are they doing?

They’re looking, searching, procrastinating, hunting, browsing, considering, analyzing, evaluating, thinking, questioning, investigating, and comparing.

Basically they’re doing a bunch of stuff — besides purchasing — that might, one day, hopefully, lead to a purchase.

Your goal, site owner, is to help move them along.

Here’s how.

When a site is struggling with low conversions, one of the first red flags is segmentation.

Or rather, a lack thereof.

(I’ve always wanted to use that word in a blog post.)

Specifically, are you treating all website visitors more-or-less the same?

The classic example is when AdWords traffic is going to your homepage. Or when your entire email database is seeing the same ‘special offer’ email.

If the best forms of marketing promotion are the right message, to the right person, at the right time, your website is no different.

The problem is that every single visit or session is unique (to a point). They’re different people, with different levels of awareness, looking or searching for different things.

And when generic tactical decisions are applied to all, results suffer. Or are nonexistent.

But fear not. There is a way around this.

The key is to determine:

WHO is coming to your site (specifically), WHY they’re coming (motivation), WHAT is their intent (what are they going to do when they get there), And WHERE are they going to go (the next logical step)

Here’s how to figure it out, and where you can improve.

Most savvy readers are familiar with the buying cycle, or stages people go through before making a purchasing decision.

Typically your website visitors fall somewhere along the following:

Awareness: Although they’re beginning to recognize a related topic of interest, many times they still aren’t even aware they have a need for your product or service. Consideration (or Information and Evaluation): Visitor begins to recognize a potential need for a solution, and is starting to evaluate potential solutions. Decision (or Purchase): Here (and only here), is the visitor looking to actively make a decision to work with you in some capacity to solve their problem. buying-cycle

The trick then, is to begin segmenting visitors by determining where groups of people might fit along this path.

Then, we can use this initial knowledge to help hypothesize the rest of the answers.

Site visitors in the ‘awareness’ stage probably make up the bulk of your site traffic (assuming you’re doing a lot of promotion and have at least a few thousand monthly visitors), making up anywhere from 40-70%

Because these people aren’t need-aware quite yet (they might not even be brand-aware at this point), pimping sales offers is useless.

Instead, they’re probably looking for some general information or education about some topic. That’s why many of them tend to come into your site through blog posts (again, assuming you’re actively promoting your site) and other unbranded pages.

For example, a visitor queries ‘san diego restaurant week’ and lands on a blog post on your site.

hard-rock-san-diego-news-screenshot

These people are so far removed from being a good sales opportunity, so your goal is to start setting up micro conversions, of different levels, to get something — anything! — from them so you’re able to continue following up.

First and foremost, keep them on-site! The Hard Rock’s sidebar features a Search bar, followed by Recent News to keep people clicking around (other topically-related content or events in this case).

hard-rock-recent-news

They also feature a Tag Cloud with some of the biggest events also listed, including Comic-Con or the upcoming Valentine’s Day.

hard-rock-tag-cloud

The blog post itself features other guest’s experience with instagram, and provides a way for the casual visitor to see more about the ‘scene’ or even join the fun themselves.

nobu-san-diego

Last but not least, the blog post also features a Menu link to let people (a) browse to learn more and (b) entice them to recognize a need (“Hey – let’s go get sushi!”).

san-diego-restaurant-week

All of these little details have one goal in mind – keep people around long enough so they recognize that need and move into the next stage (of ‘Consideration’).

And if all else fails, you can use remarketing campaigns, like a restaurant week discount offer, to rope in visitors who’re leaving without providing at least an email.

One awesome tip with shared external content is to create a server redirect that will fire a ‘website custom audience pixel’ within Facebook ads before ultimately redirecting the visitor. Then you’ll be able to retarget these people on specific topics after they leave your site.

Check out this detailed guide on Facebook Ads cost if you’re interested in figuring out how to get a campaign like this up-and-running.

Once people have recognized some need in their life, a tiny little opening has been created that your brand might be able to fulfill.

Generally speaking, somewhere between 10-30% of your site visitors might fall here at any given time (don’t check my math).

These visitors are beginning to consider their options and alternatives. Not only are they a little more knowledgeable about what you do at this point, but they’re also beginning to recognize the jargon or local slang used to differentiate between things.

Like, for example, neighborhoods within a city when they Google ’Gaslamp hotels’.

hard-rock-hotel-san-diego-homepage

Not only are they looking for a hotel in Downtown San Diego, but they’ve also narrowed it down to a specific neighborhood, (hopefully) eliminating their other alternatives or options within a few square miles.

These people are ripe for a landing page, covering one specific topic (the one they were looking for!) in detail.

gaslamp-quarter-screenshot

When you’ve got someone on the hook, you can also use similar landing pages to keep them browsing around for a bit before bouncing. Here, Hard Rock uses the secondary navigation on the left of the content.

explore-san-diego-UI

The opening paragraph of the landing page perfectly positions the primary point on the page (wow, that was annoying).

Prominent (there it goes again) links pointing to the Hard Rock’s rooms and nightlife options help to take someone who’s already evaluating their options deeper into the site while also providing them a chance to show off what differentiates them best (like, a good time!).

hard-rock-san-diego-district

The main reason your website conversions suck is because only around 10% or less of current website visitors might be ready to make a decision.

The rest, as discussed, are chillin.

But the good news, is that these people know you. Chances are, they’re looking for you by name with a branded search, like ‘Hard Rock San Diego’.

hard-rock-san-diego-homepage

These peeps have looked around. They’ve considered a few alternatives. And in this example specifically, they’ve also utilized influential 3rd party sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor.

What better way to tempt someone so close to purchase with a special offer or package.

hard-rock-choose-your-experience

Hard Rock does a nice job highlighting the seasonal (and most profitable) ones first, while following it up with the more heavily discounted stuff at the bottom (so it’s there, but… don’t the other ones look way more fun!).

The drop downs help you quickly browse through the highlights of each package (even though it might be a bit wordy).

valentines-day-hard-rock-san-diego

So you’re telling me that I don’t even have to think about or plan this Hallmark holiday and I can just check-in with my wife while you take care of the rest? Here’s my credit card number.

Also, if that red button with decent copywriting (complete with typo – whoops) doesn’t entice you, there’s a global footer CTA on the bottom of the page that funnels you into their booking system where you’re trapped for all eternity. Just kidding. I hope… 😦

hard-rock-valentines-day-copy

Phew. That was a lot of writing to make a very small point.

And that is: A/B testing a single element on a single page won’t improve your site’s conversion rate.

The way you make big conversion improvements it by making a lot of tiny ones, first.

Here’s where to get started.

Start by figuring out where you’re at within each stage.

You know: user flows, page level user behavior, click tracking, surveys. All the ‘blocking and tackling’ of basic site analytics.

Then implement ‘best practices’. A quick Google will provide amazing resources for all the basics, like the essential landing page elements.

Also, make sure your S#!^ is fast. Ain’t nobody got time to wait longer than three seconds for pages to load. Managed WordPress hosting company Kinsta has one of the best guides on the topic, in a Beginner’s Guide to Website Speed Optimization.

Oh, also make sure you have enough traffic in the first place. Generally, that means A LOT. Most site owners would be better served by simply pouring more resources into the top of the funnel first, before over-prioritizing conversion optimization.

If you haven’t got the basics covered, there’s no point in moving on to the advanced stuff.

After analyzing user behavior for a few weeks, the next step is to make some educated guesses about what they want, what’s not working, and how you might be able to fix it.

Go on, stick your neck out. Come up with a few likely scenarios.

You may be wrong. But you also may be right. (Where have I heard that before?)

HOW can you improve a visitor’s path and get them to logical ‘next step’?

Should you remove pages, and make it easier? OR should you add options to increase Pages per Session (so visitors have a chance to become interested before moving onto the next step)?.

Convesrion XL has a thorough ‘customer journey maps’ guide if you’re looking for concrete ideas.

Once you have ‘path’s and micro-conversions set-up, you can begin to drill deeper to see where stumbling blocks are, or gaps that can be improved.

And because you’re focusing on the tiny interactions, it should be easier to iterate or make adjustments

Which brings us to…

It’s impossible to improve overall website conversions from 1 to 2% in one fell swoop.

However it IS possible to begin fixing site conversions from Awareness to Consideration, and then Consideration to Decision. Optimize the little steps within the customer lifecycle to move the big needle.

Breaking it down into manageable chunks not only makes it easier to execute, but it also makes it easier to focus on making the right choices in specific scenarios to set you up for future success.

Execution is everything.

And in a world where options are limitless, constraints help prioritize that the important stuff — the biggest gaps or stumbling blocks along the entire customer journey — are addressed first.

About the Author: Brad Smith is a founding partner at Codeless Interactive, a digital agency specializing in creating personalized customer experiences. Brad’s blog also features more marketing thoughts, opinions and the occasional insight.

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Where to Start If You’re Lost with Selling a SaaS Product (Infographic)

At a small SaaS company, resources are constrained. Money is tight and everyone is wearing multiple hats while trying to find product/market fit. And most companies don’t have the money to hire the next David Ogilvy. It becomes the job of the founders and a few of the early employees to sell the product.

If you’re new to SaaS selling and don’t have time to read SNAP Selling, then today’s infographic is for you. Even if you’ve never sold anything in your life, you can learn some basics about the stages of selling. The infographic below includes step-by-step directions on how to sell a SaaS product. We thank Marketo for providing us with it.

7 Steps for SaaS Sales Success

Brought to you by Marketing Automation Software by Marketo

We thank Marketo for providing us with this useful infographic.

About the Author: Zach Bulygo (Twitter) is the Blog Manager for Kissmetrics.

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Top 6 Mistakes Marketers Make on YouTube Influencer Campaigns

According to recent studies, up to 75% of marketers are now investing in influencer marketing and 60% of brands will increase the amount they spend on it in 2016. Moreover, the latest research shows that YouTube has the best ROI above any other social media platform.

Couple that with the fact that YouTube is the second largest search engine and has a monthly user base of more than 1 billion people, it’s no surprise that YouTube sponsorships are one of today’s top-ranked customer acquisition tools.

YouTube marketing offers big rewards, but the path to success in this uncharted territory can be bumpy. In this article I will share the top 6 mistakes marketers often make, as well as strategies for avoiding them.

One common mistake marketers make when launching YouTube influencer campaigns is to only have vague goals and objectives in mind. Often marketers’ only goal is to reach a certain amount of views and interactions (likes, comments, shares) per video or across several channels.

Managers start allocating marketing budgets and choosing talent before clearly defining which metrics should be used to measure a campaign’s success. Is it a sales play campaign measured by lead to customer conversion rates, revenues and acquired customers’ lifetime value? Is it a brand awareness campaign measured by increase in brand recognition, referral and direct traffic or lift in brand conversation? Is it brand channel growth activation campaign measured by an increase in new visitors and subscribers? Or maybe the objective is a combination of any of the above.

An ROI positive YouTube influencer campaign requires a well thought out strategy. Along with numeric campaign goals, marketers should define KPIs – key metrics indicating whether a campaign’s performance can achieve these goals. This will allow for better decisions and strategies to meet the ultimate objectives.

Here is an example of a sales play campaign goals and KPIs:

Goal: 3000 app downloads, CPA = $10

KPI 1: 3% website leads/video views conversion rateKPI 2: 20% app downloads/website visits conversion rateKPI 3: 500,000 video viewsKPI 4: Cost per view = $0.06

In this example the maximum campaign spend has been defined at $30,000 (500,000*$0.06). We know how many views and at which conversion rates we have to hit in order for the campaign to be successful.

Discovery is a crucial stage and will define a campaign’s success. During the stage, marketers tend to fall into a common trap: choosing talent based solely on the channel’s number of subscribers and latest video views.

However, YouTube hosts a much larger amount of data on video watching behavior and habits. The rise of Big Data analytics provides online tools to help marketers dig deep to find the highest-quality talent for their brand. There are several key data-driven aspects marketers should analyze when choosing talent: Relevance, Reach, Engagement, Influence and Consistency.

Relevance identifies whether a channel’s audience will be authentically interested in your product or service and is determined by keywords and audience overlap.

Reach looks at the average number of views per video and is calculated as the average number of views during a set period of time.

Engagement measures how actively the audience interacts with a channel’s content and is usually computed using total views and interactions.

Influence indicates whether a channel stimulates action and audience growth and is calculated based on how content is shared outside the channel and if viewers turn into subscribers.

Consistency analyzes how often the channel is delivering meaningful content and is measured by averaging various channel performance metrics from video to video.

Failure to analyze any of these crucial parameters may result in a poorly targeted audience, low conversion rates and washed budgets.

Example:

The AngryJoeShow gaming channel has significantly less reach than TobyGames (2.3 million versus 7 million, respectively), but more engagement — 300K – 400K views and 7K likes on average per video, versus 30K – 40K views and 1K likes for TobyGames. We can also see a striking difference in daily subscriptions growth between the two channels:

angryjoeshow-tobygames-subscribers-graph

Without digging deeper into the data, we can already see that although TobyGames has a better overall reach, AngryJoeShow performs better on the engagement and consistency scores, which determine true audience response.

Each industry has its most popular YouTube celebrities with millions of subscribers, which may seem like the fastest and easiest solution for a brand, but they only represent 1 – 5% of all influencers.

With hundreds of new channels popping up every day, marketers tend to play it safe: activate the largest channels to secure the best results, ignoring smaller channels. This strategy may lead to disappointment, providing only mediocre outcomes. Here’s why:

Lack of targeting. If a channel has a large scattered audience, it is difficult to predict what portion of subscribers would actually be interested in the particular topic or brand. As a result, subscribers can see videos irrelevant to their interests, which hurts both the influencer (jeopardizing a follower’s trust) and the brand (triggering negative sentiment). On the contrary, small and mid-sized dedicated channels attract a homogenous audience of highly engaged followers.

Lack of authentic admiration. There is a lot going on for the most popular influencers. They cover a variety of topics, experiment with different video ideas, spend a good chunk of time on marketing and let’s be honest – often treat brand partnerships as just another business. As a result, brands do not get any special interest or authentic excitement about their product or service. At the same time smaller, niche channels are sincerely interested in the particular topic and product, which leads to higher quality endorsements.

Marketers should explore the small and mid-sized niche channels, which can become the most loyal and dedicated brand ambassadors and open doors to a highly targeted and authentically engaged audience. Another advantage is that for the same amount of marketing dollars (or less), brands can reach a greater variety of audiences and produce multiple pieces of content.

Example:

Rooster Teeth, a very popular gaming channel with more than 8M subscribers covered a popular, but rather niche video game (World of Tanks) to its widespread audience of gamers gaining 350K views. Compare it to the video produced by SideStrafe, a smaller channel with 190K subscribers, published several months later and resulting in 1.5M views and much higher engagement. SideStrafe is highly focused on the topic of military and combat games and as such attracts higher quality traffic. SideStrafe’s video content is also more effective and engaging, as he understands the game very well.

world-of-tanks-youtuberooster-teeth-world-of-tanks-youtube

Marketers still fall into the trap of treating influencers as actors and editorial content as video ads. Brands underestimate how keen their users are, how fragile their trust is and how shortsighted it is to fake authenticity.

Research and case studies prove that the more authentic the content is the better users react to it, which leads to higher reach, better engagement and ultimately stronger campaign results.

Think of the Proactive case study. The company tried to mirror user generated video testimonials and hired actors to produce similar endorsements. They saw 10-20 fewer video views in comparison to the testimonials created by real users. Proactive learned its lesson and today is tapping into YouTube influencers, providing talent with creative freedom, which is essential for campaign success:

proactive-youtube

In addition to the lower reach, “over-controlled” campaigns may result into a wall of negative sentiment from the community. Once users sense content irrelevance, disingenuous feedback or any other signs of inauthenticity, they will let you and everyone else know. In the realm of YouTube, these comments hurt both the talent and brand.

youtube-comment-inauthentic

Let the talent run the show. They do it for living and know how to organically mention your product or brand, so the campaign gets a response.

With the rise of YouTube influencers there has also been a rise of agencies to help brands with campaigns. The promise is that marketers can fully outsource the efforts and simply reap the rewards.

But there are pitfalls hidden in this approach:

Limited access. An agency only has access to talent in its network, and those channels may not always be the best fit for the brand’s needs. Marketers should assess each channel’s value and not limit their reach to only one “ideal” partner.

Lack of connection. Marketers often underestimate the level of personal connection required between brand and influencer. Influencers seek strong relationships with a brand, so that they can truly understand its values and speak on its behalf. It is impossible to achieve that level of connection via a third party, so marketers should be involved and engaged as much as possible.

Lack of niche understanding. The majority of agencies cater to brands within multiple industries and don’t fully understand the nuances of particular spaces. This is where a brand manager should step in and make sure that both talent and video content choices take into consideration industry specific aspects.

Working with agencies, managers need to carefully evaluate the emerging costs compared to the delivered value. What would be the overhead associated with launching campaign in-house and how does it compare to agency fees? What are the key competencies and resources your team is missing and are they provided for by the partner? These are key questions to ask before hiring an agency.

One of the biggest challenges for marketers in YouTube influencer marketing is a lack of transparency and standardization in pricing models. They end up getting unreasonably high quotes and overspend, not realizing the room for negotiation in this developing market. There is no transparent, consistent pricing model in the world of YouTube influencer sponsorships for several reasons:

Different payment models. Different channels and agencies work on different payment models (pay per view, pay per action and pay per activation). Many agencies/talents work solely on pay per activation model and often do not tie their fees to guaranteed campaign results.

A new marketplace. YouTube influencer marketing is still in its infancy, and with a lack of benchmarks, the market hasn’t determined average rates. Currently influencers and agencies charge anywhere between $0.02 and $.20 per view, so there is a lot of room for negotiation.

Secretive transactions. Agencies rarely share their pricing structure, which leads to partners offering different fees for the same talent or campaign.

Marketers need to compare prices across the space and negotiate aggressively to get the best deal, which will secure a ROI positive campaign.

Try reaching out to the same talent via different channels: directly, through matchmaking platforms like Famebit or Grapevine, or via Multi-Channel Networks like Fullscreen or Maker Studios and learn the difference. Sometimes you will get a better deal with an agency due to their negotiated rates and sometimes you are better off with a direct connection without third party cuts.

Example: In my practice one agency quoted the same campaign at 3.6x higher than its competitor (90K vs. 25K).

The rise of YouTube influencers has created a new lucrative, scalable communication channel for brands, but only if approached in the right manner. Knowing the common pitfalls of YouTube influencer marketing can help brands maximize the return on investment and secure long-term rewards.

About the Author: As a thought leader in influencer marketing, Polina Haryacha has built and grown influencer programs with talents ranging from 50K to 10M subscribers, resulting in more than 50M views. Polina’s expertise in YouTube influencer campaigns has been featured in key industry publications such as TechCrunch and [a]listdaily. She has also created a course to empower other marketers, featuring her experience with talent discovery, content creation and campaign optimization. Connect with her on LinkedIn or Twitter.

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Solar Energy Could Save You Money

You may well have noticed that solar panels have appeared more and more homes. In fact, looking across the rooftops of my own window of his office, I see a number of new facilities are in place.

So how can we explain this sudden increase in demand? You may think this reflects the fact that people in the UK have more of an interest in the environment and seeking to reduce its consumption of coal, gas and oil. Is it true that there is this growing desire to help the environment in general?

Like so many things in life, it soon becomes apparent that the first explanation is rather simplistic. Surely we can say that environmental issues do not attract a lot of coverage these days. In fact, a variety of topics being discussed on television and in newspapers.

What is clear is that there is more awareness of environmental issues and can also increase the levels of concern. In some cases, people can think about future generations. What kind of world are we leaving our children? It is easy to see how these issues could lead to a change in behavior.

But many experts also suggest that people tend to act more quickly, if they have some kind of financial incentive to do so. In other words, we can see a financial gain as a motivator to make a decision. This is certainly something that many people in the field of renewable energy in the UK seem to agree.

Undoubtedly help explain the presence of more and more solar panels. People are encouraged to install, with the promise that can actually make money over time. What you see is that completely changes the decision to purchase and installation.

If you had planned to install solar panels in the past, then it is quite possible you have been thinking about the high costs were involved. It may have been nice to think that could help improve the environment, but may not have been terribly realistic.

This reflection has been modified by the realization that the installation of the solar panel should not be considered as an expense. Instead, you can consider an investment that will pay off over time.

This leads us to see that solar energy is not only an option for those who are concerned about the future of the planet. It is realistic for those who wish to make some extra money option.

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Five Kissmetrics Reports You Can Use to Guide Your Product Development

If you’re building a SaaS product, getting constant feedback from customers is likely an integral part of your business.

There are two types of feedback – qualitative and quantitative.

Qualitative feedback is the reason people do what they do. You’ll get this through your customer development, user research, etc. This feedback answers questions like:

What do customers love about the product?Why did customers spend extra time on a certain page?What and where are customer frustrations?

Quantitative feedback is the numbers – the metrics. The Kissmetrics reports that you will get provide data about how customers are using your product. This feedback answers questions like:

How are customers using the product?How often do customers use the product?Which features of the product do customers use?

There are times when you need to rely on one (qualitative or quantitative) more than the other, but you should never abandon either.

Kissmetrics can be used to gather quantitative feedback. Through the various reports, you can get valuable data that will help you build a better product. And since the reports provide the identities of people in the data, you will be able to contact them to get qualitative feedback as well.

For those who want the TL;DR, I created a small “Takeaways” summary at the end of each section. Read that if you want the CliffsNotes.

Now let’s learn how you can get valuable data that will help you build a better product.

Your user engagement may be all over the place. Some users may use your product every day, some a couple of times a week, and others a couple of times a month.

The ones who use your product every day (or on a more frequent basis than other groups of users) are known as your power users. These are your must-have customers. They value your product, are unlikely to churn, and probably tell their friends about you.

You need to know who these people are so that you can talk to them and get qualitative feedback. You want to discover what they like and don’t like about your product, what problems they solve using your product, and what frustrations they are having, etc.

You can also use these people for feedback on new feature releases. If you have a new feature but aren’t ready to release it to your entire customer base, you can keep it limited to your power users. Gather feedback from them and iterate based on what they say.

Using the Kissmetrics People Search, you can find people based on criteria you set. For example, at Kissmetrics, we have an event called “Created Report.” This event triggers any time a user creates a report. If we want to find our power users, we look for the people who created a report at least 7 times in the last 30 days. We can add other data to our report, too, such as how many reports they created, how many times they logged in, etc.

Here’s how our criteria would look in People Search:

kissmetrics-finding-power-users-people-search

Again, our criteria is:

We want to find the people who created a Kissmetrics report at least 7 times in the last 30 days.We want to add additional data to our search – the number of times each person created a report in the last 30 days and the number of times they logged in.

Let’s click Search and get our list:

kissmetrics-people-search-power-users

The left side (the blurred out section) is a list of customer email addresses. We can see each customer who fits this criteria and send them an email to learn why they do the things they do and how they feel about the product. The two columns on the right tell us how many times they created a report and how many times they logged in during the last 30 days.

How often people use your product will vary. Some may use it every day while others will use it only a few times a year. The people who use it most often are your power users. You want to know who these people are so you can talk to them.The Kissmetrics People Search helps you find these people.Once you use People Search and know who your power users are, you can talk to them and ask what they like and don’t like about your product, what problems it solves for them, and what frustrations they are having. This can also help you establish product/market fit so you can go after more of these customers.

Continuing with our feedback theme, it’s also important to gather qualitative feedback from users who do not upgrade to paying customers. This can uncover some important insights:

You can learn if you’re targeting the right people for your product.You can find out if users ran into any trouble with your product or if it was not the right fit for them.You can gather any other feedback necessary to learn why users chose not to pay for your product. Maybe they were oversold or maybe there were problems with onboarding.

We don’t need to change reports to get this data. With the People Search, we’ll find the people who signed up but were never billed. Signed Up and Billed are not automatically tracked in Kissmetrics. If you’re a SaaS company, you’ll need to know when people sign up and when they are billed. This will be automatically recorded once you create the events.

Here’s how our criteria would look:

signed-up-cancelled-marketing-channel-kissmetrics-people-search

Again, we want to find the people who signed up for a trial but were not billed. We can add other data, too, such as which marketing campaign they came from (with UTM parameters), when they signed up, etc. For now, let’s click Search and get our list:

people-search-signed-up-not-billed

The whole process takes less than 10 seconds.

It’s a good idea to make this a routine process in your product development. Talking to the people who decide not to pay for your service is just as important as talking to the ones who love your product.

There are people who will sign up for a free trial (assuming you offer one) of your product but not upgrade to paying for it.You’ll want to talk to these people and find out why. Were they onboarded incorrectly? Was the product not the right fit? Were they oversold? Were they confused about something and couldn’t get past it?This feedback can be invaluable when iterating on your product. It can help you prioritize what needs the most attention (if it is something within your product that people didn’t like).The People Search will find users who signed up but were not billed.

Knowing which features are the most “sticky” can help you prioritize your product development and feedback cycle.

The Kissmetrics Cohort Report will help you find out which features are the “stickiest.”

A cohort is a group of people who share a common characteristic or experience within a defined period of time. For example, people who signed up for your product during the month of April may be put in the “April Signup Cohort.”

With the Kissmetrics Cohort Report, you can track which features are used repeatedly. You’ll see the people who used a feature and then track how many of them came back to use it again. And since Kissmetrics is a people-tracking platform, you’ll know you’re getting accurate data. Every person who comes to your site is identified as a person, not a pageview.

To track feature retention, just create an event that triggers any time someone uses a feature, and then segment by which feature they used.

From there, create your Cohort Report that looks at people who used the feature and then used the feature again. Here’s how the setup would look with the Kissmetrics Cohort Report:

cohort-report-feature-engagement

We’re tracking use over time, which allows us to see if feature engagement increases or decreases over a period of months.

Here’s the data visualization:

feature-engagement-numbers-cohort-report-kissmetrics

On the left, we see the feature type and how many people used that feature type during the selected date range. On the right, we see the percentage of those people who came back and used the feature again. The darker the shade of blue, the better.

Here are a few observations about this data:

Feature G has a lot of engagement, but not a lot of people are using it. If we can acquire more of the type of people who use Feature G, chances are we’ll be acquiring loyal customers.A lot of people are using Feature A, and its engagement is on par with most of the other features.Over time, the majority of engagement on these features fades. To build a strong product, we’ll need consistent engagement over time.Some of this data may come from trial users who used a feature but never returned. That can negatively affect the data. To make sure we see only current customers, we can use a filter (also called a Global Filter) so that we’ll see usage data from paying customers only.You want to build a lean product and remove any fat. Fat is features or areas of your product that no one uses. Think of it as Deals in Facebook. There wasn’t a significant number of people using it, so they removed it.The Kissmetrics Cohort Report will help you know which features people are using consistently and which ones they are not.

Many features in a SaaS product contain at least two steps. A user has to load the feature and then use, or complete, the feature. Here are a couple of examples:

When sending an email in Pardot or MailChimp, there are a few steps to go through before you can send (or schedule) the email.Creating a report in Kissmetrics takes a few steps. You have to load the report, then set your criteria, and then run the report.

You get the idea. A user inevitably has to go through a few steps when using a feature.

The best way to track a user moving through a flow on your website is with the Kissmetrics Funnel Report. You’ll see each step, from beginning to end, and you’ll see the percentage of users who move through the step.

Here’s an example:

funnel-report-product-flow

This Funnel Report has three steps:

Someone initially loaded the feature.The person used the feature in some way.The person completed a final action within the feature interface.

We see that during the month of September, a total of 2,500 people loaded the feature interface. But only about 50% of the people went through the entire product flow. Considering that this funnel has only 3 steps, there is much room for improvement. The majority of people who loaded the feature should complete their usage of it.

There are a few options we have that will improve our feature utilization:

Get User Feedback – There’s no shortage of ways to collect user feedback. Run through the product flow with a prospect and customer and listen to everything they say.A/B Test – This one is a little trickier, but with a little work you can pull it off. You can create an A/B test in the feature and see if your variant brings more people through the entire flow. You don’t have to leave Kissmetrics to get this data – just use the A/B Test Report. It makes it really easy. You can test any part of your funnel with this report.Get the Right People to Use Your Product – Problems of low feature utilization and poor engagement can run deep. Perhaps you don’t have product/market fit, users aren’t being onboarded correctly, or they were oversold. Whatever the case, you need to make sure your target audience is using your product.Dig Deeper into the Data – While it is useful to see the percentage of users who move along this flow, we can also segment the data and see how different groups of users move along the flow. This is done with properties in Kissmetrics. You can create any property you want. Let’s say we have a property for plan size. This segments people by the plan size they are on. We have four plans – small, medium, large, and enterprise. Let’s segment our funnel by plan size:kissmetrics-funnel-report-segmentation

Most of the segments, except for one, have an average flow. Around 90% of customers enter step 2, and about half of them complete using the feature. Enterprise customers are the only exception. Many of them move to the second step, but then there’s a big drop-off. We’ll need to investigate why.

Of course, we aren’t limited to segmenting by plan size. We can look at signup dates and see if the drop-off comes only from new customers. Or, we can look at browsers and see if the people dropping off are using a certain browser. Or, we can segment by free trial users and current customers. Maybe it’s only free trial users who are struggling. As long as you’re tracking a property in Kissmetrics, you can use it in your reports.

With the Funnel Report, you’ll also be able to see exactly who is getting stuck in any step of a funnel. Maybe you want to see the people who get stuck after the first step. No problem, with the Funnel Report you can easily view these people. They should be a gold mine of great feedback.

Each feature in your product likely has a few steps users need to go through before they can “complete” using the feature.The Kissmetrics Funnel Report can be used to track how users move through a flow.There are a number of things you can do to improve feature utilization, and Kissmetrics will help you find the right people you need to talk to.You can segment data to get additional insights.Since Kissmetrics identifies each person, you can select any step in a funnel and see exactly who got stuck. Get the list of people within 30 seconds.

As a product manager, you’re always iterating on features, adding something here, removing something there, and improving something somewhere. Are you making all these iterations in the dark, or are you tracking your customers to see if they are picking up and interacting with the iterations?

It’s best to track who is using your product features and the iterations. Then you’ll know who can give you valuable feedback. You can also find out how many times they used the iteration and the total number of customers using the iteration.

Let me give you a real world example.

At Kissmetrics, we recently iterated on Engage. Previously, customers had two colors to choose from – light and dark. We just added the ability to use custom colors. With this feature, customers can create any color combination they want with an Engagement.

kissmetrics-engage-custom-colors-button

We want to know who has used this new feature and how many times they’ve used it.

I’m sure you have a similar need. You don’t want to release iterations and never know if anyone is using them. You want to know who, if anyone, is using them.

People Search is here to help.

You know the drill by now. People Search allows you to find users who have done certain events on your website. You set the criteria, and then you get a list of the people who met that criteria. If no one did, your search results will tell you that. Pretty simple.

To make sure this works, you’ll need to create an event that triggers when a person uses the new iteration. For this example, an event triggers when someone uses custom colors. When we use People Search, we can see who is using the new iteration and how often. We also use the Funnel Report to see how many of the people who use custom colors actually complete the flow and launch their Engagement.

Now let’s look at another example. Let’s say that we’re a product manager at Twitter and we just released the “Favorite” option last week to a few thousand users. We want to see who is adopting it and how many times they are using it.

In the report setup, we’ll want to find the people who “favorited” a tweet (triggered the event). Here’s the search criteria we would use to get the data:

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We’re looking at the people who have done the event “Favorited Tweet.” We want to see all the people who have done this over the last 7 days. Also, we added more data to our search results to see how many times they favorited a tweet.

We’ll click Search and get our data:

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We get a list of people who favorited a tweet, as well as how many times they favorited a tweet.

This is great data, but to make it more useful, we need some context. We need to know how many times people have used Twitter. If they’ve logged in 50 times over the past 7 days but favorited only one tweet, we know it’s getting low adoption. So we need to add additional data to this search.

Side note: Don’t take this example too literally. I’m using Twitter because (a) everyone knows what it is and how it works and (b) there is a lot of crossover between it and other products. You may know people are using some new iteration in a larger feature of yours. And you may know how often they’ve used it. But you also need to know how often they use your overall product. That’s what we’re getting into here.

We’ll add more data to our search results and see how many times each person logged in.

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We can now get a glimpse of just how often users are favoriting tweets. We can also export this data to a CSV file to get the complete picture of all users.

Product managers iterate on features. Don’t be left in the dark. Track people to find out if anyone is using the new iterations.With People Search, you’ll be able to find who used a new iteration and how many times they used it.

Product development isn’t easy. As a data analytics platform, Kissmetrics will help you build a more effective product.

And if you’re a marketer, Kissmetrics will be one of your favorite tools. We’ve built Kissmetrics for marketers. Head on over to the Kissmetrics Academy section to see exactly how Kissmetrics can help you optimize your marketing.

Interested in learning more about Kissmetrics? Then click on the button below to request a personal demo.

About the Author: Zach Bulygo (Twitter) is the Blog Manager for Kissmetrics.

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The Little-Known Marketing Issue that’s Secretly Killing Your Sales (And How to Fix It)

Not long ago, “Big Data” was all the rage. The race was on to collect as much information about people as possible – creating a giant, looming cloud of detail that was nearly impossible to sift through and a challenge (at best) to market to. Today, we have more tools than ever to wrangle that information and use it to present clear, compelling reasons for customers to want what we’re offering.

But there’s still a lingering problem.

As marketers, optimizers and improvers, we focus a great deal on the performance of our campaigns. We track open rates, click-throughs and conversion rates without giving a second thought to where that data comes from.

And that lack of attention is costing us – big time.

Information collected from prospects usually isn’t wrong when you’re first connecting with them. But over time, people move up (or move on) in companies, change email addresses, merge with other companies or segment their division into an entirely separate entity.

And it happens more often than we realize.

You may think that an incorrect email address or a wrong company contact here and there wouldn’t really make an impact – especially if you’re getting solid results from your existing campaigns. But for every lead that enters your funnel, there’s always the possibility that the information is changing quicker than your CRM database can keep up.

A study by DiscoverOrg found that sales and marketing departments lose approximately 550 hours and as much as $32,000 per sales rep from using bad data.

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But putting a price tag on the number of sales lost from bad data isn’t just about the money. It’s about the time lost that could be better spent working on engaging leads rather than chasing down lukewarm non-responders. It’s about that burst in morale and spirit that comes from closing a sale when everything you do is right on target. It’s about maximizing efficiency and productivity on every level.

And at the heart of it all is the very data you’re collecting.

As more time passes, the effect of bad data seems to snowball. Not only is time wasted chasing incorrect or outdated data, but information (especially online) becomes outdated very quickly.

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The last thing you want is a database full of duds. But by the same token, incorrect or outdated information caused by the sheer vastness of data out there can also be improved by it – if you know where to look and how to keep your existing CRM data squeaky clean.

The good news is, bad data doesn’t have to drag your conversion rate and closing numbers down. Now, more than ever, marketers are coordinating their efforts across multiple channels, which means the need for accurate data is one of their primary focuses.

That means that while the sales department likely has its own automation system for follow-up, marketing also needs to have its finger on the pulse of this information. Both parties should ideally be able to access, update and reference this information to form a complete, cohesive “big picture” of the data.

Even bringing customer or technical support into the fold is a smart idea. If service calls show that a certain problem is common but easy to fix, sales can break down that resistance early on, while marketing can pinpoint a way to introduce more customers to the solution based on its ease of use. All of these groups working in tandem helps create a more concentrated, goal-focused, customer-centered unit – and customers appreciate that kind of familiarity.

Inaccurate information can not only affect sales and productivity, but credibility as well. Good data hygiene means taking the time to clean up, verify and organize data so that common issues like duplicates, mismatches and missing elements no longer plague the system.

But in addition to scrubbing your CRM, it’s also a good idea to look beyond the details you’ve collected already. Can you connect social media usernames or accounts with these leads? What about mobile device information? If you’re just now opening the floodgates to sharing data between departments, are there any areas where information can be appended or merged so that you have a more complete picture of the customer?

Of course there is no shortage of both free and paid tools to help ensure optimal data cleanliness, many of which are already part of existing CRM software (like Salesforce) or other analytical tools. Oftentimes, companies will hire dedicated data-cleaning teams whose sole purpose is to keep records up to date and relatively error-free.

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Even the most accurate information will change over time

Even if you’re doing it yourself or with a small team, it’s easy to look at waves of bad data and feel like you’re drowning in inaccuracies. It’s no small task to not only correct bad data but keep it fresh and up to date. Creating a sort of “data plan” can help you eat that elephant one bite at a time. In creating such a plan, ask yourself the following questions:

Who has access to what information? Not only are there privacy and security policies to keep in mind, but also the fragmented nature of the data collection to begin with. Getting everyone on the same page and making sure the right people have access to the right information is crucial to making the most out of every campaign and strategy.How do we measure data quality? – You already know fields like name, phone and email address have to be accurate, but how else can you measure data quality? Knowledgent has an insightful white-paper on the topic, including analyzing key points that can degrade the quality of the information you collect, like consistency, timeliness and uniqueness.What path does our data take and how can we make it better? – Let’s say a customer in your database has just switched jobs. In addition to putting their new position in your CRM, consider things like whether or not they are still a key decision maker in their new role, and if not – who is. The last thing you want to do is compound the time lost by sales staff in chasing down referrals who don’t have the authority to move forward.What goals can we set to make data cleansing more valuable? Turning bad data into good data is no small job. Taking it step by step by focusing on the high ROI targets will keep everyone engaged and motivated to improve. Set real, measurable, attainable goals and focus on the journey instead of the destination.

By putting these steps into practice, you’ll not only walk away with a squeaky-clean database, but improve your business credibility, resonate with your target audience, increase sales productivity and build stronger relationships with your customers at every stage in your lead generation funnel.

Have you been the victim of bad data? How has it affected your business? Which tools do you use to keep information current? Share your insights with us in the comments below.

About the Author: Sherice Jacob helps business owners improve website design and increase conversion rates through compelling copywriting, user-friendly design and smart analytics analysis. Learn more at iElectrify.com and download your free web copy tune-up and conversion checklist today!

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Why Your Team Can’t Afford to Ignore the Data

A Teradata survey unveiled that 87% of marketers see data as the most underused asset in their cohorts, and 50% desire to extend the use of big data to support their digital marketing efforts.

However, ecommerce marketers are still experiencing difficulty with gaining insights from analytics. They struggle with integrating data into their everyday operations, like competitor analysis, branding strategies, and sales techniques.

Instead of suffering from analysis paralysis, marketing teams should focus on the bigger picture. Major gains are made when marketers concentrate on creating a better customer experience.

So, stop disregarding the data. Move forward by sharpening the following four key areas:

Data gives SaaS teams an inside track of how to strategically outdo the competition. With keyword tools, you can measure your methods amongst other market leaders.

SEMrush monitors your competitors’ strategies in display advertising, organic and paid search, and link building. Knowing the competition’s unique keywords will help you discover unknown search terms.

Moreover, by improving your content with new keywords, there’s a greater chance to emerge in the SERP next to your competitors.

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Social data also offers an inside track of how competitors interact with customers. Platforms like Rival IQ and Mention can help you size up the competition.

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For example, on Twitter, observe other brands’ mentions, followers, and engagement rates. Know when they outperform you, and vice versa. Then, analyze the content promoted.

What content stands out? How many times was it promoted? How did customers respond?

The purpose is not to mimic your competitors but to learn from their successes and failures. If a particular tweet does well for them, it may have a similar result for your business.

Keep the following points in mind when measuring your brand’s presence:

Identify insights that can contribute to your plan.Learn what and when to post to produce more engagement.Pinpoint substantial spikes in impressions.Distinguish between what’s working and what’s not.

Mold your strategy with benchmarks, and build marketing campaigns that outwit your competitors.

Data helps ecommerce marketers create customized buyer personas. Knowing your audience means more personalized messages to segmented groups.

Forrester’s report on Competitive Strategy in the Age of the Consumer emphasizes moving away from consumer historical data. Rather, focus on the here and now.

Try conducting customer surveys, and use open-ended questions. That way, you gain actionable insight beyond the constraints of yes/no questions.

The goal is to understand customer behavior, including the roadblocks that hinder them from making a purchase. So, seek outside the usual interests and needs, and aim for actions and reactions.

Conversion copywriter Jennifer Havice suggests asking these survey questions:

When did you realize you needed a product/service like ours?What problem does our product/service solve in your life?What doubts or hesitations did you have before buying?

Your team also may want to gather data from phone interviews. While time-consuming, you will capture specific keywords from your customers. And that may be worth your efforts.

Just be mindful that these customer interviews aren’t sales calls. Instead, listen attentively.

“This is an opportunity to gather symptoms and a prospective customer’s perspective on their needs with respect to a specific problem or capability,” says Sean Murphy, CEO of SKMurphy.

In addition, enlist aid from your online community managers. These folks are pros at finding the most important conversations. Your community forums could uncover new clues about your consumers.

It’s up to brands to offer experiences that cater to their customers. To do so, businesses must look at the real-time data to match customer motivations with personalized products.

Get inside your customer’s heads. Create accurate buyer personas.

Want to fill your sales pipeline with qualified leads? Use data to produce targeted lead generation campaigns.

But in order to do that, sales and marketing teams must be aligned. A common issue amongst these departments is disagreement about lead qualification. Without a set definition, some organizations witness a stunt in their growth.

Research tells us that “highly aligned organizations achieved an average of 32% year-over-year revenue growth – while their less aligned competitors saw a 7% decrease in revenue.”

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Marketing and sales centers around lead quality. So, to start a rewarding partnership, use consumer behavior data.

Marketing automation tools were essentially created for this purpose. Work with sales to select which leads deserve a follow up. The data will determine which prospects need to be nurtured and handed to the sales team.

The key is to eliminate missed opportunities. The collaboration should help both teams address the right leads at the right time.

Also, remember to clean your databases. Archive or delete prospects that don’t meet the lead qualification criteria.

Quality trumps quantity. Three super-qualified leads will always surpass 20 disinterested leads.

Set up your parameters. Then, filter for things like:

Fake email addresses and phone numbers,Information-seeking job titles, like “student,” andLow annual revenues.

Failure to properly process data is one reason companies don’t generate more leads. Be better. Move data to the forefront to boost sales leads.

Data identifies holes in the customer experience that may lead to high churn rates. Extend your customer lifetime value by predicting consumer behavior patterns.

By analyzing data, marketers learn their customers’ needs and preferences. Leverage those insights to understand why customers discontinue their services or try other brands.

Is there a disconnect in customer service? Or is your onboarding process complicated? Look for patterns and discover the reasons for your churn issues.

Researchers found that “96% of unhappy customers don’t complain; however, 91% of those will simply leave and never come back.” That’s why it’s so important for your team to be proactive.

Keep an open line of communication between your company and customers. This means promptly addressing concerns and following conversations via social media.

Effective data-gathering doesn’t have to be difficult. Below is an example of how new users sign up for Pusher. The company received a 16% reply rate.

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The real challenge begins when your customers start responding. How will your team correct mistakes? Will you add more value to your services?

Incorporate customer comments into your retention strategy. Find new ways to deliver on your promises, like initiating a rewards program.

Examine the data points that increase your churn rates. Then, develop programs to exceed customer expectations. Build a brand loyal customer base.

Data is your friend. Shying away from analytics will do more harm than good.

Use keyword tools to monitor your competitors. Develop customer surveys to help with buyer personas, and align marketing and sales to create more qualified leads.

Data is valuable. Think twice before you ignore it.

About the Author: Shayla Price lives at the intersection of digital marketing, technology and social responsibility. Connect with her on Twitter @shaylaprice.

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